Early in my career, I was recruited to be the Corporate Controller for a large public company in Philadelphia. Two weeks after I started my job, the company also hired a new President. In my first meeting with the President, he shared a story with me that I still remember today. In my mind, it’s like it was told to me yesterday. I have shared the same story many times with clients because I think the message is valuable to everyone.
The new President walked into my office to meet me for the first time. We shook hands, introduced ourselves to each other, and had a very nice initial conversation. During our first meeting, he told me that it was important that I always keep “Fresh Eyes.” He saw the puzzled look on my face. Obviously, I did not understand what he meant. He stood up and asked me to follow him.
We walked out of my office, into the hallway, turned around and back into my office. He asked me what I saw in the hallway. I said that I saw my assistant, her desk, and the rest was pretty quiet. He stood back up and asked me to follow him again back into the hallway. There were three unopened cardboard boxes of office supplies stacked up in the corner. He asked me what was in the boxes. I said office supplies. He asked me if that was where the company stored the office supplies. Obviously, the answer to his question was, no.
We went back into my office. With a serious look out of his fresh eyes, he said, “Bob, you have walked past those boxes so many times and now you don’t even see them. After you walk past a problem several times, it mentally disappears unless you maintain Fresh Eyes. If you walk past those boxes again and don’t put them where they belong, you don’t have Fresh Eyes. If this company does not have a Corporate Controller with Fresh Eyes, there will soon be a new employee sitting is this office.”
It was crystal clear to me that he was not only talking about the boxes of offices supplies. His message was that I should question everything that I suspect may be a problem. I should never keep walking past a problem to the point that it disappears.
I have made a career out of fixing problems for business owners who have walked past their problems so many times they don’t see the problems any more.
Do you have “Fresh Eyes?”